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Okanogan, Washington – Firefighter Hospitalized After Sustaining Burns in Spring Coulee Fire

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Posted on September 3, 2019

Okanogan, Washington  (September 1, 2019) – A firefighter sustained serious burn injuries while battling the Spring Coulee fire on Sunday afternoon. The injured firefighter, identified as Assistant Chief Christian Johnson, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where is currently in critical condition. Johnson suffered second- and third-degree burns over 50-60% of his body, and also sustained damage to his airway. He was reported to be in a  medically-induced coma to stabilize him, with an upcoming operation for skin grafts.

The Spring Coulee fire broke out in the area between Spring Coulee Road and Fletcher Loop Road around 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. According to officials, Johnson was with another firefighter on the north end of the fire when the blaze overtook them. The other firefighter was initially able to outrun the fire, but came back to help Johnson and call for help. The fire was contained around 5:30 p.m. after burning around 142 acres of land. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

About Fire

Washington counts as the 5th state most prone to wildfire from 2017 wildfire risk analysis, and ranks 8th in a 2018 study by number of fires that happened. The US Fire Administration has recorded 15 home fire fatalities this year within Washington, showing the destruction fire is capable of doing. Even within city areas, one must be wary of fires that can happen near residential areas.

If your home is near an area with risk of brush fire, there are few safety reminders to keep in mind. Homeowners are urged to complete their spring cleaning, and to create a defensible space around the home by clearing trees and brush. Additionally, the limbs of trees should be cut to at least 15 feet off the ground. Any object that send out fires should be handled with absolute care. Common objects such as lit matches and cigarette butts can also easily cause a fire within dry brush. Should fire be used in an outdoor space, one must assess the surroundings to make sure fire would not have a possibility to spread out. While the fire is burning, it is imperative that it must be attended to and ensure that the blaze does not go out of control. Finally, before leaving an area where fire was used, one must ensure that any fires must be extinguished completely. Preventing brush fires from happening is everyone’s responsibility, and careful use of fire can ensure the safety of not only one’s self, but hundreds of others.